This is the next post in our series on the probate and administration process in Hartford, Connecticut. Our last article discussed what residents should expect from the probate process. We also stressed the need to retain an experienced attorney to assist you with such matters. It is important that an executor retain experienced counsel as it will help to ensure that things go smoothly in addition to helping the executor avoid potential liability. In this article we will discuss the handling of assets which often pass outside of probate. If you are in need of assistance then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
It is important for those who have lost a loved one to understand that many assets will not be subject to the probate process. These items, through other mechanisms, will pass to their new owner without legal proceedings. These mechanisms typically transfer ownership of the asset to a named beneficiary. Examples of this include bank accounts or pension accounts with a “Payable on Death” (POD) designation. In the example of a bank account, the named beneficiary will typically be required to go to their local branch and provide a copy of the death certificate. Other assets, such as real estate held in joint tenancy, will also pass to another party without having to involve the Court system.
If the deceased engaged in proper estate planning, then they may have utilized a living trust. If all of the deceased’s assets were held in a living trust then it may be possible for the heirs to skip the probate process entirely. Rather than dealing with the legal system, a “trustee” will oversee the distribution of any assets in accordance with the terms of the trust. We previously discussed why a living trust can be important to one’s estate plan. If you or a loved one are considering preparing a last will and testament, then you may want to also prepare such a trust in order to provide greater flexibility and convenience with regard to the distribution of the assets.
It is not uncommon for heirs to believe that all of a deceased’s assets will be distributed through the legal process. These heirs are then surprised to learn that many, if not all, of the assets may pass through other means. With that said, it is common for the beneficiary of an account, or some other asset, to not know how to proceed. By retaining an experienced lawyer, one can make sure that the process is handled appropriately.
Our Hartford probate attorneys have extensive experience in assisting those who have lost a loved one. We recognize that no two matters are the same and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Call today to speak with a lawyer. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.